How are you sitting right now? Are you hunched over a laptop, your spine taking on curvatures matched only by 80-year-old women? Are your arms crossed or upward, hands resting behind your ears? Better yet, how did you sit during your last job interview?
One thing I’ve learned over the past years in my career is how powerful body language can be at shaping one’s life. Reviewing tape of my appearances on the Fox News Channel has been the best reflection of this concept for me. My first appearance I sat on the couch with TV hosts, a bit hunched over. I discussed nurse practitioners and the role we can expect to play in the primary care shortage. It was some of the best content I have shared to date. But, I doubt viewers were convinced. My words were not backed with confidence but rather meekness reflected by my posture.
Eventually cam the Ebola outbreak. With nearly a year of TV experience under my belt, I finally believed I belonged on the network when I was called on to comment. If you watch these appearances you will see I’m seated with my spine straight, shoulders back, projecting my voice with confidence. My posture helps my words pack a punch.
Naturally an introvert, I employ the same tactic when I attend parties. I stand up straight, throw my shoulders back, wear a smile and tell myself that people want to talk to me. Intentionality behind my body language conveys social confidence and creates a positive feedback loop. I portray an outgoing spirit. So, people talk to me. I end up actually feeling confident because I’m not standing in the corner and end up having the time of my life making a few new friends along the way.
I was first exposed to this idea that body language actually influences our lives by social scientist Amy Cuddy’s ultra inspirational TED talk. Her message? Tiny tweaks in how you carry yourself can lead to major life changes.
For new nurse practitioners looking for that elusive first job, internalizing Amy’s message is a must. I encourage less experienced NPs to apply for jobs, even those requiring experience and work to land the position regardless simply by interviewing confidently implementing these life-changing body language principles. I’ve seen it happen.
Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk “Your body language shapes who you are”. While you watch, think about how you portray yourself, especially as it applies to interviewing for your first job and showing up for your first days of work.